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Fruit from the Garden of Wisdom
by Swami Krishnananda

Chapter 6: Yoga and Meditation

In simple terms, without involving technicalities, if yoga is to be defined, it can be called the system of harmony. It is nothing mystifying or beyond the conception of human understanding. But there is a great proviso in this simple definition of yoga as harmony. While it is true that harmony in every field of life is what we seek in our day-to-day existence, it is necessary to know what harmony, actually means. And when the essential of that simple fact called harmony gets imbibed into our consciousness, our personality gets stabilised. Stability of personality, equilibrium of consciousness, harmony in the walks of life, is yoga.

Now, harmony implies an adjustment of oneself with an environment that is external to oneself. When there is no proper adjustment of one thing with another thing, we call it disharmony. When there is a proper adjustment, a smooth working of one principle, one fact, one object one person with another, we regard it as harmony. Why should harmony be regarded as the essential of life? The reason is the very structure of the universe. The universe is a system of harmony. We, as human individuals, form part of this universe. We form part of it in such a way that we are integrally related to it.

There is a difference between mechanical connection and vital, organic relationship. The contact of one stone with another stone in a heap is mechanical. There is no life in this connection. If you take one stone from that heap, the other stones will not be affected in any manner. So, a mechanical group is that in which parts are so related to the whole that if some parts are removed from the whole, the remaining parts are not affected at all. That is what we mean by mechanical relationship. But organic relationship is something different. We can have the example of our body itself. You know very well that our physical body is made up of many organs and limbs and these are so connected to one another that they give the appearance of a single whole called the body. While the removal of a few stones from the heap does not affect the remaining stones vitally, removal of a few limbs of our body will vitally affect the whole body. The very existence of the body is seriously affected. The harmony of the body is disturbed, That is why when a limb of the body is cut off, there is intense pain, agony and a dislike towards it. We dislike any kind of interference with the limbs or organs of our body, because the limbs are vitally connected as a living whole in the system of our personality.

We are vitally related to the cosmos, Our connection with the universe outside is not like the connection of a stone in a heap, so that we may do anything we like without affecting the world outside. That cannot be. Our connection, our relationship with the world outside is such that it can be compared to the relationship of the limbs of the body to the whole system of the body. Any meddling with the system is not warranted, nor called for. To conceive what the Universe would be, you have to conceive what a human individual is. In Indian Vedic mythology, we have the concept of what is known as Purusha, the Supreme Being. "Purusha" means man, the human individual. But when the Vedas speak of the Purusha in the cosmos, they mean the concept of the Universe as a single individual, a Cosmic Individual, whose relationship with the parts of the cosmos is similar to the relationship of an ordinary limited individual to the limbs of the body. Can you imagine, for a moment, what it would be to remain as a cosmic Individual? Suppose you are the consciousness animating the Universe, how would you conceive this possibility? For that, again, you have to bring the analogy of the human body. Do you know that you are an Intelligence, or a centre of consciousness? You know that you are a complete whole called Mr. so-and-so, Mrs. so-and-so, and so on. When you say, 'I am such and such a person', what do you actually mean? What do you refer to? To the hands, to the feet, to the nose or any part of the body, or all the parts put together? What do you mean by saying 'I', or the individual that you are? On a careful examination of the situation you realise that when you refer to yourself as so-and so, you do not really take into consideration the limbs or the organs of the body. Because, if a hand is amputated, you do not say that a part of yourself has gone. You still remain a whole individual. The individual never feels that a part of his personality has gone, He will say that a part of his body has gone, but a part of himself has not gone. He will still think as a whole being. Otherwise, if the limbs of the body were to be an essential part of the personality, then, when the legs are amputated, for example, a person would be thinking, in a lesser percentage. There would he half-thinking, one-fourth thinking, thirty percent thinking, and so on. But that does not happen. There is whole thinking, whole understanding, the entire consciousness is kept intact in spite of the fact that the limbs are amputated. This shows that you are not the limbs of the body. You are something independent of these limbs that constitute your external form called the body. You are a centre of consciousness which animates this body on account of which the amputation of the limbs does not in any way affect your personality. You are essentially consciousness.

Now, the concept of the Virat-Purusha or the Cosmic Being, which I mentioned as stated in the Vedas, is only an extension of this concept of the individual consciousness to the cosmos. Can you close your eyes for a few seconds and imagine that instead of your being a centre of consciousness animating this small body, you are a centre of consciousness animating the whole universe? Can you expand your imagination to this extent? It can be done with a little effort of the mind. I shall tell you the technique. The consciousness which you are, which animates every part of your body – hands feet, fingers, nose, eyes etc. – this consciousness that you are, which indwells your individual body, is so uniformly present in every part of your body that you may be said to be present in every part of your body. You are present in your fingers, you are present in your toe, your are present in. your nose, and so on. You, as a complete whole, are present in every part of your body. Now, can you extend this analogy, or comparison to the whole universe? Just imagine your consciousness is not merely your finger or your toe, but it is also in this table that you see in front of you, it is also in the chair, it is in the mountain, in the sun and the moon, in the galaxy, etc.

If you can extend your imagination in this manner, if your consciousness can exceed the limits of your bodily personality, and if you extend this pervasive character of consciousness beyond the limitation of your bodily personality and concentrate it on every other object in the world, you become a Cosmic Individual. This is Yogic Contemplation. Meditation in the highest sense of the term. This is the apex which you reach after many stages of meditation.

This is a difficult technique, because you will not be able, ordinarily, to extend your consciousness to other objects in the world. We have a prejudice, an old habit of thinking that the object, are outside us. But, do you know that your ten fingers are outside you? They are objects; you can see them as you see any other objects in the world. If these ten fingers (i.e. these objects) can become part of your personality, then why should not other objects in the world become part of your personality? They do not become, because you have limited your consciousness by an old prejudice of thought. Prejudice is irrational, it simply asserts itself, it is not amenable to reason. Why should you limit your consciousness to your small body? What do you gain? Why not extend it to other persons? Why not feel that all people seated here are part of a wider, social individual (just as you imagine you are a human individual)? Why limit your consciousness to people seated here, go further to the vaster world and imagine you are the world-individual! This world-individual is what religion means by God.